Have you ever wondered what it takes to copyright or trademark a name?
What’s involved, and is it expensive?
If so, you’re not alone.
Many people ask us these same questions.
This guide will help you learn how to copy right a name by explaining the ins and outs of the process.
- What Is A Copyright?
- Can I Use Copyright To Protect My Business Name?
- Copyright A Name, Or Is It Trademark A Name?
- Trademarks vs. Copyrights: What Is The Difference?
- Can I Use Copyright To Protect My Business Name?
- Why Is “How To Copyright A Brand Name” The Wrong Question To Ask?
- Copyright Protection
- Trademark & Copyright of a Logo or Name
- Copyright a YouTube channel
- How to Copyright a Book With a Pen Name
- Pros of Copyright Registration
- Wrapping Up
What Is A Copyright?
A copyright is a form of protection for original works of authorship.
A copyright is a property right, which means that you, as the copyright holder, can sell it, transfer it, or give it away.
Your original work qualifies for federal copyright if you express it in a tangible medium.
If your name meets these criteria and has not already been taken by someone else, you can register it as your own!
Can I Use Copyright To Protect My Business Name?
Unfortunately, you cannot use copyright to protect your business name.
Copyright only applies to creative works, like music and books.
The proper protection for your business name is through trademark.
A trademark protects the identity of a brand, in this case, your small business.
It prevents other companies from using the same name, confusing consumers.
Copyright A Name, Or Is It Trademark A Name?
Copyright a song or book, and trademark a name.
A copyright is a type of intellectual property for your original works.
A trademark is another example of other kinds of intellectual property.
You can register your trademark with the U.S. Patent or Trademark Office (USPTO).
- Copyrights protect original works (books, music, movies)
- Trademarks protect names, words, or logos
- Patents protect inventions
Trademarks vs. Copyrights: What Is The Difference?
Copyrights protect your original works.
But a trademark protects what identifies or distinguishes your business from others.
Copyright your original work to stop others from using it without your permission.
Trademark application helps prevent competitors from using them for the same products or services.
Copyright law doesn’t apply to names, but a trademark will protect them.
Can I Use Copyright To Protect My Business Name?
No. You cannot copyright a business name.
You can copyright your logo, slogan, or product design.
It must meet the criteria of being an original work of authorship.
You can trademark a business name, a logo, or anything else associated with your brand.
Whatever your trademark, it must be something that helps your small business sell goods or services.
For example, Apple the company trademarks its name and the Apple logo.
These materials are integral for the company to sell Apple technology products.
Without a trademark, it’s hard to do business in our era of copycats.
Why Is “How To Copyright A Brand Name” The Wrong Question To Ask?
You should first understand that a brand is a trademark.
But, your trademark is not the same as your copyright.
A copyright will protect original literary and artistic works.
A trademark protects the identity of your business products and services.
Let’s say you create a piece of software called “MyCompanyName,” and you’d like to protect the name under copyright law.
But, unfortunately, you can’t because:
You cannot copyright a brand name because names are not creative works.
However, you can register a “trademark” with your local or state government.
Just not with the U.S. Copyright Office.
You can copyright the brand logo (assuming it meets specific standards).
The logo must be your original creative work.
You must be the one who created it or someone working for you as an employee using your company’s time and resources.
Copyright protection arises automatically upon the creation of a work.
Copyright protection helps prevent unauthorized reproduction or distribution of materials in any medium.
What Does a Copyright Protect?
Copyright protects works of art and literature, architecture, computer programs, etc.
Copyright does not protect ideas. Instead, it protects the expression of ideas.
For example, consider a copyrighted piece of music.
The composer has exclusive rights over the arrangement or performance of those notes.
However, copyright doesn’t protect melodies and chord progressions.
Those are considered to be part of the public domain.
What DOESN’T Copyright Protect?
The bundle of rights protected by copyright law does not include the right to use a name (see below).
So if someone else creates work using your name and you don’t like it, you cannot get them to stop via copyright law.
The only way to stop them would be under trademark law.
In short, copyright does not protect:
Ideas, Concepts, Systems, or Methods of Doing Something
Copyright protects the form or manner in which you express ideas or information.
For example, copyright will protect a description of a method of doing something expressed in writing.
It will not protect the system or method itself.
Names, Titles (Including Book and Movie Titles), Short Phrases, and Slogans
But if the slogan of your small business is long enough, copyright law considers that an expression.
For example: “Just Do It” could not be protected as a slogan (it’s too short).
You can copyright “Just Do It Because You Want To.” It is longer and expresses more of an idea than just the name “Just Do It.”
Diaries and Checks
Copyright doesn’t protect blank forms such as time cards, graph paper, account books, or diaries (unless there is some authorship on them, such as instructions).
Trademark & Copyright of a Logo or Name
So, you’re all set to unleash your business name upon the world.
But wait—you don’t want anyone else to use it unless they have your permission.
The good news is that there are many ways to copyright a name in 2023.
Do You Need to Register a Trademark and Copyright for Your Logo or Brand Name?
Yes. It’s a good idea to copyright or trademark everything you create, from logos and websites to books and music.
Copyrighting your work will help protect it from infringement.
It also protects it from plagiarism and piracy. Copyrighting your work inspires confidence in your clients.
It shows that you are offering an original product.
It pays to register a trademark successfully.
You get the exclusive right to use it, provided you use it with your goods or services.
You can take legal action against someone for stealing your trademark or copying your work.
It will be easy because you will have the copyright symbol on file.
How Do You Copyright A Logo?
It is simple to copyright or trademark a logo.
You will need to create it as an original work and register the copyright.
How to Apply for the Copyright of Your Logo
The following steps will explain how to apply for a copyright or register your logo.
Step 1: Design the Logo
If you’re designing your own logo, remember that it must be original and not copied from another source.
If it’s similar to another logo, you’ll need to show that you created yours first.
You can keep a dated file of all your designs, including what inspired them.
Step 2: Determine if the Logo Is Eligible for Copyright Protection
You should fix the logo in a tangible medium of expression.
That is to say, you must record it on paper or some other physical medium.
Step 3: Create a Write-up Explaining the Logo’s Design, Form, and Purpose
You should include details about how you created your logo.
Detail its distinguishing features and how it relates to your business.
Step 4: Register Your Logo With the U.S. Copyright Office
It costs under $100 per image or design and can be done online here: https://www.copyright.gov/registration/.
However, the filing process can take up to six months.
Following successful registration, you’ll receive an official certificate of registration.
The copyright certificate will cover each item filed for copyright protection.
The certificate includes the design, description, date of publication, and details about you.
Step 5: Send the Logo to Yourself
Send copies of your write-up and clear logo images via email to yourself.
Do this as soon as possible after filing your application with the USPTO.
It proves that you created it first and registered it before anyone else did.
You can then start using your copyright online or offline.
When using your copyrighted logo, add a notice of copyright.
Make sure it includes the word “copyright” followed by ©.
Copyright a YouTube channel
YouTube’s Terms of Service say that the content created by its users is copyrighted works.
On YouTube, the owner of the intellectual property (I.P.) rights is the person that created the work.
In this case, copyright protection is automatic if anyone creates an original video and uploads it to YouTube.
Can You Copyright the Name of a YouTube Channel?
No, you cannot copyright a YouTube channel name, but you can trademark it.
Copyright protects your original work from being copied by others.
The name of your YouTube channel is not an original work; it’s just words that you have created.
How Do You Protect a YouTube Channel Name?
You can protect your channel name by registering it as a trademark.
You can register it with the U.S. Patent/Trademark Office (USPTO).
The process can take several months or even years.
But, with the right legal help, you may easily get approval for your trademark registration.
Why Should You Protect the Name of Your YouTube Channel?
It’s essential to protect the integrity of your channel.
It will help build trust among viewers.
Subscribers will know that you and your content are trustworthy and reliable.
It also helps prevent someone else from stealing your traffic or content.
They usually do this by creating accounts with similar names as yours.
How to Copyright a Book With a Pen Name
You can establish yourself as an author through publication under a pen name rather than your real name.
Authors use pen names to sell copies of books online or at book signings and other events.
As long as you take the necessary steps to register your name, your books and money will be safe.
What Is a Pen Name?
A pen name is a pseudonym that an author uses in place of their own name.
A pen name can help make the author’s name more memorable.
It can help to hide their gender.
Pen names make it difficult for others to know the author’s true identity.
How To Obtain a Copyright for a Book With a Pen Name?
Register your pen name.
Copyrighting a pen name will make it clear that you are the owner.
You will retain all rights for any works written under that particular pen name.
When registering your copyright, you’ll need to fill out an application form.
The form includes basic information about yourself, such as your name and address and details about your book.
You’ll also need to include one or two copies of the book (printed on paper) and pay a fee for each registration.
Pros of Copyright Registration
There are several benefits to registering your copyright.
Registration gives you the right to bring a lawsuit for infringement in federal court.
Alleged infringers can’t claim they didn’t know their actions were illegal.
Registration also lets you record your copyright with the U.S Customs Service.
You will be able to stop infringing imports from at the border before they hit store shelves.
Why Is Copyright So Important?
Getting your logo or trademark copyrighted will ensure that your artwork or company name is associated with you.
Suppose you wrote a book called “How to Copyright a Name in 2023”, you would be able to own the copyright to the book.
You wouldn’t be able to get any trademark rights for its title.
The “title” is generally separate from the literary work protected by copyright.
But, let’s say you wanted to open up a legal advice website called “Legal Advice for All.”
You could apply for registration of your site’s name as an unregistered service mark.
You would be successful in your application if nobody else claimed this term for legal services.
Copyrighting a logo and trademarking a name is worth considering when you start your business.
You don’t want the initial success of your brand to get stalled by legal issues later on.
Follow this guide to register your business name and its unique identifiers successfully.